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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Open Skies’

Open Skies Ahead for Israel

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz signed an Open Skies agreement with the EU on Monday in Luxembourg. The agreement which is to be gradually implemented over the next 5 years, until it goes fully into effect in 2018, should lower prices significantly on flights between Israel and Europe.

Open Skies will allow EU and Israeli airlines to operate direct flights to each others airports, and not be restricted to specific routes or airports.

When first introduced, the plan was very controversial in Israel, as El Al needs to expend a large sum of money on security that European airlines don’t need to, and that would have made it impossible for El Al to compete.

The Israeli government decided to shoulder almost the entire cost of El Al’s security expenses, which should allow the Israeli airline to be competitive.

Who Needs ‘Open Skies’?

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

My husband is one of those whose trip abroad this week may not happen.  Israel’s new Finance Minister Yair Lapid campaigned to help those he calls “middle class,” those making, like his “Riki Cohen family,” almost five times minimum wage and just over double average wage for a couple.

Riki Cohen, a widow from Hadera, earns NIS 4,500 ($1,234) a month. She can only dream of earning NIS 20,000 ($5,485) a month, like the fictitious family of “Mrs. Riki Cohen,” mentioned by Finance Minister Yair Lapid in his controversial Facebook post.

In his post, Lapid also said the ‘Cohen family’ travels abroad once every two years. “Is he serious? I’ve never been abroad,” the real Riki Cohen told Ynet Tuesday. (YNET)

Yair Lapid’s concept of a “middle-class salary” is upper class, according to the real financial statistics here in Israel, especially considering that Riki Cohen’s family can afford to travel abroad every two years.  Lapid doesn’t consider that frequent enough and in one of this new government’s first big moves is to open Israeli skies to the very competitive airfares.

In response, the Israeli airlines, including El Al are striking.  My husband, not being among the privileged, sophisticated frequent travelers didn’t realize that he should have cancelled his El Al ticket and quickly bought one from a different airline. Reports are that the airport will start shutting down tomorrow.  This is not good for Israel.

Considering that another of Lapid’s, and no doubt we should remember that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must certainly approve these moves,  budget changes is cutting child allowances which seriously affects the lower and true middle class families.

Those spending cuts include NIS 4b.-5b. from the civil service, NIS 3b.-4b. from defense, with an equal amount from child allotments and NIS 2b.-4b. from infrastructure spending.

Yet a representative for Lapid would disclose only that the budgetary framework includes new taxes on affluent goods such as luxury apartments and cars.

So, I guess we can conclude from those budget changes that Lapid puts children in the same unnecessary or optional category as luxury cars.  Does he expect Israelis to somehow down-size their families by “deleting” some of their children?

It seems pretty obvious that this is a Marie Antoinette  government whose theme is: “Let them eat cake.”

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Israeli Airlines Grounded on Day 1 of Anti ‘Open Skies’ Policy

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

The Israeli government is expected to approve today, Sunday, the Open Skies agreement enabling free competition for foreign airlines flying into Israel from Europe. Workers for the Israeli airlines are adamantly opposed to the agreement, which they say would wreck their industry, and so they went on strike at 5:00 AM, effectively disabling all the flights scheduled to depart from Israel.

The three local airlines, El-Al, IsrAir and Arkia, had been planning for the strike, and so they switched many flights to 4:50 AM, so that passengers could leave the country as planned.

Negotiations between the country’s major trades union, the Histadrut, and the Ministry of Transport over the free competition agreement was halted on Friday, and so far there have been no contacts between the two sides to renew talks.

The planned Open Skies will allow, over the next five years, a gradual process for many European airlines to run flights from Israel to the mainland and back. The main goal of the reform instituted by the Ministry of Transport is to encourage competition between companies, thereby reducing the prices for the Israeli consumer.

In addition, Israelis will now be able fly directly to destinations that currently are not reached from Israel.

Israeli airline employees have stressed in press interviews that they are not against the agreement, despite the strike. Avi Edri, Chairman of the Histadrut Transport Workers Union, clarified that he was “in favor of ‘open skies,’ and for benefiting the consumers, but not this way.” As he puts it, “the agreement as it is, without the needed adjustments to protect the Israeli companies, is a death sentence for these companies. You can’t enter the competition when the two sides are not equal, and the Ministry of Transport, unfortunately, favors the foreign companies.”

Among other things, the striking employees demand an added clause in the agreement, allowing Israeli companies to run lines to the same destinations as foreign companies would be given as part of the agreement..

Hours before the government discussion of the proposed treaty, Channel 10 News exposed an internal document of the Ministry of Transport warning against the collapse of El-Al as a result of implementing the Open Skies deal. Among other things, the report warns of El-Al going bankrupt and defaulting on its debts, in which case the Israeli government would have to funnel in funds to keep it alive, nationalize it temporarily, or turn it into a state enterprise.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-airlines-grounded-on-day-1-of-anti-open-skies-policy/2013/04/21/

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